Photo (From left to right): Dennis, Dad, Steve and Deborah, Masters at the Southeastern Diving Championship, May 12th 2007.
I must admit that when I went, I completely expected the Masters division to do a couple of simple dives like the pencil jump and maybe a cannon ball or two. I mean, some of these people are grandparents. They've had hip replacements and knee surgeries. I figured that they would totter out to the edge of the board, do a simple little age-related dive, and we would all clap and help them out of the pool. End of story. I was soooo wrong. These people are competitors, and they're not going to let a little thing like age stop them. They're stronger, more talented, and certainly braver than most 20-somethings, including myself.
The dives were beautiful and complex, and the same dives that the college students were doing. (Only Dad was better than most of the college students). He hasn't lost a step at all. He still flies through the air effortlessly, twisting and flipping like he was in slow motion before sliding into the water with barely a ripple. When he dives, you forget that this guy is a half a century old. Instead, it's rippling muscle and power, grace and fluidity. It may sound cheesy, but it's poetry in motion.
Video: Dad on the 1 meter board
Photo: Dad diving off the 1 meter board.
Dad competed in the 1 meter and 3 meter boards, doing 8 dives on each. 4 dives are required, and the other 4 are ones that you pick, either for the difficulty level or because they're your best. They include front dives, back dives, reverse, inverted (you jump backwards away from the board, but then tuck your head back towards it...these scare Mom to death), and twists. In addition, each of these categories can involve a straight dive, pike, tuck, or free (a combination of straight, pike, or tucks). (See diving 101 for more information and pictures).
Photo: Dad flies through the air
Dad was fabulous, and the judges were suitably impressed. He won gold in both 1 and 3 meter boards, and the announcer said that he set a new pool record for the 1 meter. Not bad for a guy who hasn't competed in 30 years. He'll compete again next weekend in Miami in the USA Masters National Diving Championships. Go Dad Go!
Photo: Dad with gold medal after winning the 1 meter competition.
There are two morals to this story. One is not to judge an old geezer by his cover, and the other is that you're never too old to live your passions. Don't let the young whippersnappers tell you that you're too ancient to do anything. Age is nothing but a number, and inside the 50 year old diving champion lives the heart and soul of the 25 year old diving champion. I'm so proud of you Dad.